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Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national policy levels to protect our natural heritage.

Congratulations to our 2017 Award Winners – our 40th Anniversary Year!

Each year Montana Audubon recognizes its heroes and honors its champions at our Bird Festival. The complete list of individuals recognized through our awards can be downloaded: MT_Audubon_Award_List.

Individual and organizational awards received at 2017 Bird Festival in Great Falls:

Montana Natural Heritage Program – Conservationist of the Year

In order to do our conservation work, it is essential for us to understand where wildlife species live in our state and how their distribution and population changes over time.

Because of their critical role in wildlife and ecosystem information, we recognized the Montana Natural Heritage Program (Heritage Program) with our 2017 Conservationist of the Year Award. Montana Audubon is particularly grateful for the program’s housing of the Montana Bird Distribution database, mapping Important Bird Area boundaries, and developing the state’s first wetland and riparian habitat maps.

So how is Heritage Program data used? The information is primarily used in environmental reviews conducted by local, state, federal, and tribal governments, and private consulting firms, to better understand the impacts of mining, timber sales, subdivisions, utility and pipeline corridors, oil and gas developments, highway construction projects, and more.

Good information is critical to protecting and maintaining our state’s valuable natural heritage—especially as the state continues to grow and develop. We are pleased to recognize the Montana Natural Heritage Program for this work in this area.

Beth Hill – Lifetime Achievement Award

Beth Hill, left, and Montana Audubon Board member Nora Gray, right.

This year, Montana Audubon recognized a hard-working, dedicated volunteer with our Lifetime Achievement Award: Beth Hill

Beth has donated thousands of hours of work to the Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon Chapter:

  • Serving as President, Treasurer, Membership Chair, Newsletter Editor, and Education Chair;
  • Encouraging participation in such events as the annual Great Backyard Bird Count;
  • Taking on special projects like the March 2017 community presentation on Tim Barksdale’s film, Battle on the Booming Grounds, about the Greater Prairie Chicken and tallgrass prairie;
  • Sharing her love of the outdoors and the study of birds by routinely posting her bird sightings on the Montana Online Birding Group’s (MOB) webpage;
  • Always being available to lead field trips, including the “West Bank Wednesday Walk” most weeks and annual trips to look for birds like Common Loons and wild turkey; and
  • Recording over 500 bird records in the Montana Natural Heritage Program database between 2010 and 2016.

Beth: we appreciate and thank you for your tireless work and commitment to Audubon!

Gail Engler – Outstanding Achievement Award

Gail Engler, left, and Montana Audubon’s Interim Director Norane Freistadt, right.

This year Montana Audubon presented a Special Achievement Award to Gail Engler, for her tireless work and dedication to the establishment of a permanent endowment fund in honor of her parents: the George and Laurene Engler Montana Audubon Conservation Endowment.

George Engler was deeply involved with conservation issues. As Supervisor of the Lewis and Clark National Forest he successfully resisted unrestrained forest clear-cutting and helped foster the protection of the Rocky Mountain Front. George also co-founded the Great Falls Conservation Council, which brings together conservationists for a monthly program to learn and network with each other, and the Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon chapter.

Laurene Engler also supported many conservation causes. Her efforts were often behind the scenes, but she was no less enthusiastic about the importance of conserving the land and keeping it accessible so future generations could enjoy it.

To learn more about George and Laurene, click HERE.

Finally, please support the Engler Endowment (click HERE). And because of the very generous Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon Chapter, each dollar given to this fund in 2017, up to $5,000, will be matched.

We are pleased to recognize Gail for her work for birds, conservation, Montana Audubon, and the state of Montana—in perpetuity!

Chuck and Jean Carlson – Outstanding Achievement Award

From left to right: Chuck and Jean Carlson; Montana Audubon’s Janet Ellis

Many Montanans care about birds. However, extremely few devote the greater portion of their lives to these winged wonders. Because of their life-long devotion to birds, Montana Audubon is pleased to recognize Chuck and Jean Carlson with a 2017 Special Achievement Award.

Specifically we thank them for:

  • Welcoming numerous birders, scientists, and enthusiasts of the natural world to sit around their kitchen table—to find out about local life birds while being served a meal and coffee;
  • Guiding or directing visitors to places where they can observe many of the unique birds that call the ‘greater Fort Peck area’ home;
  • Developing a bird-friendly backyard at the house they have lived in for over 50 years;
  • Running the Fort Peck Christmas Bird Count for over 40 years;
  • Submitting over 6,500 records to the Montana Bird Distribution database at the Montana Natural Heritage Program; and
  • Submitting nearly 27,500 records to eBird as of May 24, 2017, making this information accessible to other birders.

We are privileged and proud to know Jean and Chuck—and pleased to recognize them for their outstanding work for birds, Audubon, and the state of Montana.

Congratulations—and THANK YOU—to all!


Past Awards

2016 Awards

These awards were presented at our annual Bird Festival in Missoula in 2015. We recognize these individuals and groups for their excellent work:

  • Conservationist of the Year ~ Becky Kean (Montana Raptor Conservation Center)
  • Environmental Educator of the Year ~ Larry Weeks (Missoula)
  • Citizen Scientist of the Year ~ Gary Swant (Deer Lodge)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award ~ Bev Orth Geoghegan (Five Valleys Audubon)
  • Outstanding Achievement ~ Jeff Marks, Dan Casey & Paul Hendricks (co-authors of the 2016 reference book, Birds of Montana)
  • Science Outreach Award ~ Whisper Camel-Means and Stephanie Gillin (Tribal Wildlife Management Program, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes)

2015 Awards

These awards were presented at our annual Bird Festival in Helena in 2015. We recognize these individuals and groups for their excellent work:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award ~ Jo Lace and Brian Shovers (Helena)
  • Conservationist of the Year ~ Amy Cilimburg
  • Educator of the Year ~ Vince Yannone
  • Citizen Scientist of the Year ~ Harriet Marble
  • Special Achievement Award ~ Jane Beasley
  • Special Achievement Award ~ Jay Sumner

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